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Charge dismissed against owner of scratch-happy cat

A combative cat named Lewis, who frightened the neighbors and got his owner into legal trouble two years ago, has done so well under house arrest that the case has now been scratched.

A judge dismissed a reckless endangerment charge against Lewis' owner, Ruth Cisero, on Thursday, concluding she had met terms of a special probation for first-time offenders. Lewis is now an indoor pet, allowed outside only in a cat carrier.

“Unlike most of us, Lewis has learned to live with his limitations,” said Eugene Riccio, Cisero's attorney.

The scratch-happy black-and-white cat drew widespread attention in 2006 when Cisero opted for a trial on the criminal charge rather than euthanize or declaw him. Supporters across the country rallied behind Lewis.

Neighbor Maureen Bachtig, whose February 2006 encounter with a nasty Lewis led to the criminal case, said Thursday she was satisfied with the outcome.

“She gets to keep her cat, and the neighborhood is safe,” Bachtig said.

Cisero's probation included community service, as well as the restraining order to keep Lewis inside. Had he gotten out, she could have faced up to six months in prison, and Lewis could have been euthanized.

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